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Kosovo and Greece meet in Pristina on Sunday, both off to the best possible start in their new UEFA Nations League campaigns, with the possibility to pull clear at the top of League C Group 2.
While the hosts got off to a winning start in Cyprus, their visitors won 1-0 against Northern Ireland and are now looking to advance to the competition’s second stage.
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Kosovo vs Greece Tips and Prediction
Gus Poyet, a well-traveled Uruguayan coach, led his new-look Greece to victory at Windsor Park on Thursday, the opening of a tough Nations League schedule this summer.
The Galanolefki dominated much of their match against Group 2 foes Northern Ireland in the first of four matches in less than a fortnight, and skipper Tasos Bakasetas scored the game-winning goal in the 39th minute.
Poyet’s reign began with a mixed bag of results from two springtime friendlies, with a 1-0 win in Romania followed by a defeat away to Montenegro, but a composed performance in Belfast will have pleased the fiery coach.
With three points already on the board, Greece can concentrate on exiting League C after two earlier failures, and they are currently seven games unbeaten in Europe’s newest international event, following an amazing finale to the Nations League’s 2020 season.
Greece has kept clean sheets in each of their previous five games in the third division, indicating that they are capable of playing at a higher level, despite missing out on qualification for the World Cup this year after finishing behind Spain and Sweden.
They drew twice with Sunday’s opponents, who may be relative novices on the international stage but are notoriously difficult to beat.
While Kosovo’s hopes to qualify for Qatar 2022 failed miserably, finishing bottom of Group B with only one win in eight games, getting a point against Greece at home and away showed amazing tenacity.
The Dardanet had little control and absorbed a lot of attacking pressure from their Greek opponents on both occasions – in September and November of last year – but held out for 1-1 draws.
In the condensed 2020 Nations League, the Balkan nation was also a member of Greece’s group, taking another spirited point away from Athens but losing at home to finish a distant third in the final standings.Only avoiding relegation to League D due to Moldova’s poor performance, Alain Giresse’s team have made a better start in their third season, defeating Cyprus 2-0 on the opening day, with Valon Berisha and Lille winger Edon Zhegrova scoring in the second half.
Kosovo, which is ranked 107th in the world, has now gone four games without losing after impressive results in friendlies against Burkina Faso and Switzerland in March, and that momentum might be key moving into back-to-back games in Pristina.
Meetings between these two nations, which have become more common in recent years, are usually close affairs, with Greece commanding play but their Kosovar rivals holding out for a point.
With recent form and home advantage on their side, the hosts can replicate the feat and remain tied atop the early group standings, with two more games coming up next week, including the return match in Volos.